Will Martyr at Unit London
Will Martyr is an exceptionally talented artist working in precise detail. Trained at the Slade, The New York Studio Schools and the Royal College of Art, each of his stylish canvases require a multiplicity of techniques to accomplish.
Martyr utilises a mixture of his own photography and found imagery to construct complex and organised compositions. These images are edited digitally and then drawn onto the canvas. Each feature is masked off using tape and individual colours are mixed and then painted in multiple layers onto the surface. This painstaking process results in truly immaculate work.
Martyr's scenes, devoid of human presence, facilitate an exploration of our relationship to our domestic environment. The utopian views depicted in Martyr’s paintings, although formed from found imagery, present a dream-like world far beyond the realms of reality. The seductive ideals – conveyed through these sleek exteriors empty of human presence and conjuring scenes of privilege – are closely comparable to David Hockney’s paintings of Californian swimming pools of the 1960s.
Martyr is heavily inspired by the design and architectural movements of Bauhaus, blurring the line between art and architecture in his paintings. He is also influenced by Futurism and Vorticism, attempting to express the dynamism of the modern world with hard edged imagery that requires an economy of gesture.
Martyr’s debut solo show Wanderlust at Unit London in 2017 presented twenty large-scale paintings which considered how the mass-consumption of imagery affects our perception of reality. Coinciding with this exhibition, and with assistance from Jealous Gallery, Martyr created a 47 colour screenprint titled ‘A Way with Words’. The print required painstakingly precise colour separation and layering to create one of the most technically ambitious editions completed at Jealous.
Martyr's second show at Unit London in 2018 showcased eight large-scale tondos, the Italian Renaissance term for circular works of art, used by Martyr to represent an embracing wholeness and notions of eternity. Martyr’s interest in Renaissance paintings is not limited to the shape of the works however, and for this exhibition he was deeply inspired by the compositions of early perspective pioneers of the fifteenth century, Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca. Whereas Uccello dramatised his battle scenes with the use of lances and a rhythmic use of pattern and colour, Martyr utilises the line of a deckchair or fanning of a parasol to lead the viewer through his compositions. Uccello will depict a fine head garment of the central character to offer a place for the eye to rest. Martyr too offers these breaks in the more playful additions of macarons, inflatable flamingos and parasols.
Will Martyr's artwork is placed in many high profile international private and corporate collections worldwide and much of Martyr’s work is now undertaken via private commission.